Toyota is investing $ 500 million in Uber passenger service



San Francisco, Tokyo, New YorkIn the development of autonomous driving, Toyota is investing in a partnership with Uber. The Japanese car manufacturer has invested $ 500 million in the US company, as a Uber spokesman confirmed the Handelsblatt on Tuesday evening. "The deal is the first of its kind for Uber and shows our promise to bring world-class technology to the Uber network," said Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi. As the company says, the startup starts a new approach with the Japanese. The autonomous vehicles must therefore be owned and managed by a third party. This is not yet fixed.

Collaborating with Uber, one of the world's leading airlines and developers of autonomous vehicles, will further drive the mobility of the future, said Shigeki Tomoyama, executive vice president and president of Toyota. Agreement and investment marked an "important milestone in our transformation to a mobility company".

According to the agreement, Toyota is building Sienna minibuses. The technology for autonomous driving is reportedly from Uber and Toyota and independent in the future to observe the events around the vehicle to increase the safety of vehicles, Toyota Research Director Gill Pratt explains.

The funds from the established car manufacturer Toyota would pay for the strategy that follows Dara Khosrowshahi in Uber. On the stage, in interviews and in his own TV commercial, the director advertises the trust service, he is a reliable partner. The manager wants the mobility service after a year of a scandal-shaded year and the death of 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg in Arizona led to new growth during the night test drive of an autonomous Uber vehicle.

Since the tragic accident in Tempe, Arizona, in March, the tests are exposed on public roads. Although the vehicles drive through the city of Pittsburgh, where Uber significantly promotes the development of technology, but not in autonomous mode. In mid-July, the company fired 100 test drivers in Pittsburgh and San Francisco.

The driverless cars weigh heavily on Uber's balance. According to information from industry services, the division recently lost between $ 125 and $ 200 million per quarter. This corresponds to a maximum of two and a half billion dollars in the past three years or 30 percent of Uber's total losses per quarter. With Uber debuting on Wall Street next year, Uber will have to control costs more than ever.

In addition to the cooperation with Toyota, Uber also works together with Volvo and Daimler. The Americans acquired 20,000 vehicles from the Swedish car manufacturer, who want to equip them with their own autonomous technology and work as a fleet. Daimler offers self-driving cars within the Uber network.

Toyota in turn continues its ambitious strategy for developing new mobility services. In June, the Japanese car manufacturer announced the largest investment in a mobility service so far. For a billion dollars, Toyota bought the Uber partner Grab. In addition, both companies will exchange management personnel to speed up the decisions of both partners. Toyota even sends a manager to Grabs sign. It is still unclear what exactly the cooperation will entail.

For example, at Grab, Toyota has supplied data transmission modules. The driving data is stored on the data platform of Toyota, evaluated and already converted into money. So, for Grabs car rental, insurance policies are offered, the price of driving is dependent.

Toyota is under pressure during autonomous driving

Toyota has been following the data services business for years. In Japan, the Group has set up a mobility service platform (MSPF) and sells traffic data from Toyota vehicles in a network to companies or local authorities.

As a next step, a large number of other data-based services are planned, including telemetric-based car insurance. This means that in the future car insurers can offer insurance figures that depend on the driving behavior of their customers.

Toyota is under pressure with autonomous driving. In Japan, Nissan tested a robot taxi service on the road this year, together with Dena, a platform for online gaming. On Monday another attempt was made by the robot developer ZMP and the taxi company Hinomaru in Tokyo. The aim of both initiatives is to present the world autonomous taxi services on limited routes at the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020.

The market is also changing internationally. Softbank Vision Funds, an investment group of Grabs and Uber's largest Japanese shareholder Softbank, recently announced that it invests more than $ 2 billion in the robotics business of the American car giant General Motors.

Waymo, the robot car division of Google Mother Alphabet, entered into a partnership with Fiat Chrysler. And Ford has just set up its own company for the development of autonomous vehicles, where the Group wants to invest four billion dollars with partners.

Toyota is also active in this area. Not only at home, the Group also works on driver assistance systems, which are also increasingly used in its cars. In the US CEO Akio Toyoda founded the Toyota Research Institute, which wants to make Toyota a leader in the development of artificial intelligence for cars and other areas of life.

At the moment Toyota has nothing but to offer conceptually with its platform for autonomous and networked commercial vehicles. Instead, other traditional car manufacturers are the driving force behind development.

For example, two years ago, General Motors had already invested $ 500 million in Uber's competitor Lyft. Just a few months later GM bought the start-up Cruise Automation, with which vehicles can later be equipped with autonomous technology. Ford has also recently announced that it will deliver approximately $ 4 billion to its special division by 2023.


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